Celebrating research gold

From tall buildings to orchids to public libraries, every year a group of Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington students spend their summers working on a huge range of research projects thanks to the support of a Summer Research Scholarship.

Summer Gold

Students gain real world and research experience, working with University researchers and New Zealand organisations to complete their research projects. The programme also gives the University the chance to engage with and contribute to our Aotearoa and Asia-Pacific communities.

The University celebrates the research done by these students at the Summer Gold Awards. The awards are designed to help students think about their research in a new way and learn how to communicate their findings to a wider audience by creating either a poster or a video.

This year the judges selected eight winners from 56 entries.

The winners are:

Best overall poster: Bliss Graetz, Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation

Bliss’ project looked at measuring and communicating the benefits of Wellington’s community gardens. Bliss worked with the Wellington City Council and Innermost Gardens to understand the diverse benefits community gardens bring to Wellington city.

Supervised by Dr Fabricio Chicca.

Best overall video: Bryer Oden, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Bryer’s project studied humour, biases, and group norms. Working with an existing research group in the School of Linguistics and Applied Languages, Bryer’s project looked at the role of humour in negotiating identities between newcomers and in-group members. Her project has practical applications in supporting newcomers to New Zealand (such as refugees).

Supervised by Professor Meredith Marra. 

Best visual: Lauren Hayes, Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation

Lauren worked on Taller: An Architect's Guide to Tall Timber Apartment Buildings. This project consisted of conducting research and creating detailed drawings for the book. Taller takes a sustainable approach to high-rise building by focusing on timber as a construction material and on urban densification.

Supervised by Guy Marriage.

Most engaging demonstration of research: Hannah Creary, Faculty of Science

Hannah’s project looked at what happens to a generalist pollination system like New Zealand's when new species are introduced. Hannah studied past samples of New Zealand flowers to see if there were any changes after five species of social bees were introduced to New Zealand, creating competition for native New Zealand bee species. This project was competed with the help of Dr Carlos Lehnebach and the team at Te Papa Tongarewa.

Supervised by Associate Professor Peter Ritchie.

Group 1 (Science, Engineering, and Health): Amy Bridges, Faculty of Science

Amy’s project involved examining sediment cores from Lake Moawhitu, D'Urville Island. Iwi knowledge of the area describes a tsunami that destroyed ancestral villages near the lake, and some previous research dates this tsunami to around 1600. Amy's project studied the sediment cores to provide further evidence of this tsunami and contribute to New Zealand's knowledge of tsunamis. This project was completed with the help of GNS Science and Lakes380.

Supervised by Dr Jamie Howarth.

Group 2 (Science, Engineering, and Health): Emily Chase, Faculty of Science

Emily’s project looked at the response of rats, mice, hedgehogs, and wētā to pest control in urban areas, comparing the response across Wellington to the response on the Miramar Peninsula. Emily’s work is part of a bigger project involving Wellington City Council, the University, and a number of other councils working together to combine conservation findings from across New Zealand.

Supervised by Associate Professor Stephen Hartley.

Group 3 (Architecture and Design): Timothy Donaldson, Faculty of Architecture and Design Innovation

Tim’s project studied acute mental health ward design in New Zealand, looking at how healthcare providers can keep acute mental health patients healthy and independent as they obtain care. The project aimed to contribute to the development of architectural metrics that create a better patient and staff experience.

Supervised by Jacqueline McIntosh.

Group 4 (Humanities and Social Sciences, Business, and Law): Elisabeth Willmott, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Elisabeth’s project looked at writing practices in 19th century France, particularly focusing on the publication of writing manuals. These important texts, which contain information on writing and provide social and cultural insight, have not been extensively studied. Elisabeth aimed to create a comprehensive bibliography of these texts to aid in future research in this area.

Supervised by Dr Yuri Cerqueira dos Anjos.

Congratulations to the winners and thank you to all who entered. To view all the entries, including the winners, visit the University’s Facebook page.